I'm feeling like a helium balloon that's been around for a bit...and has deflated....I'll explain -
In January I met our (not so new) Vicar for the first time. Between her being really rather ill, and us not being good (at all) at going to church it was our first meeting....the occasion was the Village new year party in the pub, I was dragged over to 'meet the Vicar'....mentally getting myself prepped for this torment I told myself that I must not do my usual vocab and use phrases such as "Oh my God" or worse! Ready?
Well, the Vicar couldn't have been a bigger surprise, she blew away any previous entrenched thoughts I had about women vicars. This one was VERY different. This one happily discussed any religion, any ideas. This one drank as socially as the rest of us, this one swore like a trooper, this one genuinely cared about the people in her parish....earth shatteringly this one understood what the people in our parish actually needed.
Having a Vicar that's a breath of fresh air has been wonderful, spiritually uplifting and lots of fun, and as a result of her hard work our parish wants to grow that feeling of shared community.
The death of a much loved pillar of the parish was transformed by the Vicar and his widow into something positive and pulled the village further together. This she did with humour and huge tenderness.
What could be a village with little community feeling (as we are all very geographically spread out, no village shop or post office) became very strong....strong enough to make un-churchy me join in - and that's saying a great deal!
Coming from London, where culture and backgrounds are diverse and accepted, it has been wonderful to meet somebody so open minded, so untraditional, so interested by life and people, so genuine.
So why am I rattling on here? Well, because soon there will be no "more tea Vicar?" (though in her case we always offered a nice glass of Viognier).
There will be no more Vicar V in our parish...at the end of the summer another very lucky parish in Somerset will gain our loss.
Why? I hear you scream....and it is a fair question. Why, because another more powerful village in our benefice has been so backward thinking, so closed to new ideas (any ideas), so spiteful, so unwelcoming that our lovely Vicar has looked for pastures new...
...nobody with real soul and heart could stay.
It seems to me that there is no benefit in being part of a benefice.
Villages are just that....little groups, little communities...and when the balance is good it has community - it is more than just a collection of houses.
Being part of a benefice in which a few out of touch old farts get to pick and choose who tends to our ministry seems to be very unfair.
Then the thorny issue (yes, I am deliberately using that word) of this Benefice's treatment of our fab Vicar....the hypocrisy is lost on them.....yes, you vile lot who call yourselves 'Christians'....you give the word a seriously bad name.
Real Christians never behave like this.
Real Christian church wardens would not refuse to light candles for their Vicar, nor would they make her feel they way they have.
Since I'm not very Christian...I'm happy to say I hope their rotten souls get the attack of bad karma they so obviously deserve.
Oh God! that wasn't very nice of me was it? That's because I'm fuming...as are the rest of our little village, we've found a collective soul through Vicar V...and now some mouldy old stick in the mud's have muscled in on our spiritual journey and spoilt the trip.
The frustration is palpable, as one little place we can't have our own Vicar...instead we are at the very un-christian mercy of the BIGGER Village...who get to call the shots.
So, what do we do? Other than organise monthly coach trips down to V's new parish (could be fun)...how do we continue our journey without her.
If spiritual journeys were easy Vicars wouldn't exist...and they do.... because finding spirituality isn't always easy, and our little church without her vibrant energy is going to feel like a very sad and empty place...it's going to be really hard to keep momentum.
We are her flock, she is our Shepherd and sheepdog....so dear God, Allah, Buddha whoever you are up there can you look kindly on us? Don't let all her good work here stall...please?
Take it from a girl who grew up in the smoke....this little community has something really special.